Various Artists

As Seen on TV: Songs From Commercials

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As Seen on TV: Songs From Commercials Review

by Hal Horowitz

The dollar signs floating over the TV screen on the album's front cover tell the story from both ends of this release. Subtitled "Songs From Commercials," these tunes have found either a new life or long-delayed initial popularity by providing the soundtracks to 30-second ads on television. Those who don't want, can't find, or just won't have the patience to sit through entire albums from some of the more obscure artists here, such as Groove Armada, Badly Drawn Boy, the Red House Painters, or Nick Drake, can get a quick fix of the one song that was licensed for the spot and call it a day. For anyone else, this is a bewildering assortment of wildly eclectic acts that range from '70s techno oddities like Trio's overexposed ditty "Da Da Da" to Dusty Springfield's classic version of "The Look of Love" to the pure punk-pop of the Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get" and even T. Rex's "20th Century Boy." Unfortunately, there are no liner notes, and legal problems prevented the compilers from indicating which ads these songs are used in. So unless the record store clerk is particularly savvy, finding this album for anyone but the established music fan will be difficult. Interestingly, both Sting (a Universal artist) and Moby, the two most obvious musicians who licensed their music for shilling products, are absent here. The packaging and art direction look like they were tossed together in an hour and, although the tunes are relatively well sequenced, this is a blatant money-making project created to cash in on a quick buck from impulsive TV addicts who, because of the lack of information connecting each song with the ad it accompanies, are unlikely to locate it. It's also probably the only compilation that features tracks from Sarah Vaughan, Fatboy Slim, and Marvin Gaye, a dicey attribute at best. Any disc that includes both Styx's techno novelty "Mr. Roboto" and Nick Drake's gorgeous "Pink Moon" is bound to alienate some listeners.

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